As the medical director for the Los Angeles Unified School District, my No. 1 priority is to put the health, safety and well-being of children first. And as a pediatrician, I understand that vaccines are one of the greatest advancements of modern medicine. The reason why those of us parenting in the United States don’t have to worry about diseases like diphtheria, smallpox or polio in our children is because of vaccines. Lastly, as a mother of two children who are under the age of 12 — including one second-grade student enrolled in LAUSD — I have first-hand knowledge of the concerns and challenges facing many parents whose children are too young to be vaccinated.
Los Angeles Unified is the country’s second-largest school district, serving more than 600,000 students. But it is the first major school district in the nation to require the vaccine for in-person learning. This bold decision by our school board is sound and backed by science. It is one that I hope will spark a trend across the country and the world that emboldens social responsibility. Our school board and superintendent understand that vaccinations will bring back in-person learning in the safest way possible, and more importantly, that it’s the right thing to do for communities and children, especially for those children, like my own, who are too young to receive a vaccine.
We must act responsibly and collectively if we are to reach herd immunity, which requires vaccinating a large percentage of our population. It’s especially crucial that we do this while we wait for the US Food and Drug Administration’s authorization or approval of Covid-19 vaccines for children under the age of 12. When this is available, I will not hesitate to vaccinate my young children.
The families of Los Angeles Unified deserve to be able to return to school safely and permanently. Our children deserve an opportunity to experience a childhood free of the menace of a pandemic, and I am looking forward to the day when children have to ask what Covid was. It is at this crucial time in history that we are being asked to move away from our individualism and make choices for the sake of humanity, for the sake of our communities, and more specifically, for the sake of our children.